Some Jamaicans working in the airline industry in the United States are reaching for the panic button, while for others it is business as usual as travel demands plummet amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, forcing large airlines to scale back flights and cut staff.

The Jamaicans, employed to Delta and Spirit airlines and who spoke to the Jamaica Observer on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media, explained that already companies have asked that employees go on voluntary leave as several move to stave off the financial fallout from the outbreak.

“It definitely has not been business as usual,” a Delta Airlines pilot said when contacted, “We’ve obviously had a lot of cancellations and that’s going to continue for a long time. People are really afraid to travel. So there are definitely concerns because your job is on the line as a result of this outbreak and how companies are responding.”

Last Wednesday, the Atlanta-based airline announced that revenue fell by $2 billion in March due to the spread of COVID-19 and that it would make significant capacity reductions with a 70 per cent system-wide pullback planned until demand starts to recover.

Later last week, the company announced that it would ground some 300 planes in response to the virus’ impact.

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